Saturday, July 18, 2009


...I've been busy beginning a new chapter of my life, I'm posting another story from an earlier chapter. Until I have new stories to tell, I hope you like the old ones. Jo, at Mylestones is telling some pretty good stories, too! Maybe you could stop by.

All Boxed In

She walked toward the door facing her at the end of the long hall. The house was quiet except for the squeak of her left tennis shoe on the dark hardwood floor. She paused at the arrangement of family photographs hanging on a wall that was precisely the same color as the organic butter she bought every week. She adjusted two of the frames and, satisfied that they were once again positioned the way she wanted them, continued down the hall, humming her favorite song.

Standing in front of the door, she reached out with her right hand, turned the knob and pulled it open. She flipped the switch on the wall just to the left of the door and a pale, golden light illuminated the closet . There, on five shallow, evenly-spaced shelves climbing the back wall, sat the boxes filled with her things, all of the stuff she needed to keep her life in order. She smiled as she took it all in. She loved that shelf paper; had chosen it because it was covered with tiny little flowers that matched exactly the wall color in the hall and coordinated nicely with the soft, muted red fabric covering the boxes. (Even people who had known her for a long time were surprised that red was one of her favorite colors.)

The arrangement of boxes reminded her of a regiment of soldiers, immaculate in in dress uniform, standing at attention before its commanding officer. There were two boxes per shelf, each placed exactly the same distance from the front edge. Their sides were parallel, the amount of space between a box and its neighbor the same as that between the box and the side wall of the closet. Centered on the front of each box was a creamy white label printed with bold, block letters proclaiming it’s contents and warning anything different to keep out.

Boxes marked “BLUE,” “RED,” “YELLOW,“ “GREEN,” “BLACK,” and “WHITE” were placed on the shelves at her eye-, shoulder- and waist-level. It was here, within easy reach, that she stored familiar items that could be relied on to function the same way every time she needed them. These were the things she used to keep her life running smoothly; to make sure there was a place for everything and that everything stayed in its place.

Two “BROWN” boxes occupied the bottom shelf. These boxes were, in fact, filled with things from her husband‘s past. Early in their marriage, he had shown it all to her. The things that she could use, she had put in the easiest to reach boxes and everything else had been packed away on this less visible shelf. Occasionally, he would want to take the things back out and tell her more about them, and she'd sit with him and listen patiently because she loved him very much. But she didn’t like the way it made her feel and was glad that he didn’t want to do it often. (It made him as uncomfortable as it made her. )

On the upper shelf, accessible to her only if she stood on the wooden stool that her husband had built for her, were boxes that were rarely opened. The one marked “WILD COLORS” held gifts that had been given to her over the years, gifts that made her feel unsettled and insecure. She didn’t know what to do with them or how to use them. But she knew that , somehow, they were important to her and that she shouldn’t throw them away. Sitting beside this box , was one marked “PLAID.” In it were the things from her past that didn’t belong in the life she had now. They, too, were important because they had contributed to the person she had become. The things in these two boxes were messy and hard to control so she kept them up high, where she wouldn’t be tempted to take them down and expose herself to all of that chaos.

Lately, her things had become unhappy being confined to the boxes in which she had placed them. They wanted her to know that there was more to them than red or blue. They wanted to show her that even plain old black and white had wild color talents and that they could do wonderful things if she allowed them to work and play with each other. But each time they tried to show her something special they had created, she would lift the corners of her mouth in what might have been a smile, murmur “That’s nice” without meaning it and put them right back where she thought they should be. There was no light in her eyes, no joy or celebration, no appreciation of what they could do.

Now, unaware of the hurt and disappointment that lingered there, she reached into her neatly organized closet, took the “BLUE” box from its shelf, removed the cover and checked the contents. When she was sure that everything there was trying to do no more than be blue, she replaced the lid, turned on her squeaky shoe and started back down the hall to get on with her day; a day which would, for the most part, go exactly as she had planned it. Her things would make sure of it. Just as they always did.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Although I didn't write it until November, this story is about being out and about on a rainy August afternoon. For about 5 minutes this morning, as I thought about all the unsettled-ness of my life lately, I changed my mind about knowing what's up ahead and around the corner of life's highway. But, I've decided I still like surprises.

I'm linking this story to Jo's Stories in My Pocket over at
Mylestones. You should go visit.

Reflections at an Intersection

The light changed from green to yellow as she approached the intersection. If it had been a bright, sunny day, she might have tried to “squeeze the lemon,” her daughter’s way of saying, “Give it some gas and hurry on through before the yellow light turns red!” But it wasn’t a sunny day. Rain was spilling steadily down from a fuzzy gray sky that seemed to sag with the weight of all the water it held. She adjusted the windshield wipers from Intermittent to All-the-Way-On, and, instead of squeezing that lemon, she pressed gently down on the brake pedal and came to a soft, easy stop just as the light changed to red.

She loved weather like this. The pavement was as black and shiny as the brand new, patent leather Mary-Janes she‘d worn every Easter when she was a little girl (except for that one year when, for some unknown reason, she‘d worn white.) The shimmery reflections of the red and white car lights on the wet street sent a little shiver of Christmas spirit right through to her soul, even though it was a warm September day. She had turned the radio off and the patter of the rain on the roof of her car had muted all of the normal busy-day traffic sounds. She felt secluded, happily cocooned in her own little world with just her thoughts to keep her company.

As she sat there enjoying the wait for the green light, it occurred to her that whether she turned left or right or continued straight ahead, she’d still get home, her favorite place in all the world, in about 20 minutes. And, no matter which direction she chose to go, there would be something to see along the way that would make her smile. Of course, no matter which direction she chose to go, there would the possibility that something would annoy her and make her scowl a bit, too.

If she turned left, she could cross the little creek that ran through town. Always lovely, it was especially pretty in the rain. After making the turn, she’d drive straight for about a mile, at which point the road would curve and she would cross a kind-of-bridge. The houses that lined most of the street would fall from view, making her almost forget that this was a residential area and not a country road. On both sides of the bridge, she’d see lush green ferns and willows and that plant with the pretty white flowers; the one she didn’t know the name of. (Granddaddy would have known what it was.) She would see trees standing straight and tall in the dark water, with kudzu and Spanish moss wrapped around the trunks and hanging from the branches. Maybe, if she was lucky, she’d see an ibis or a crane. The surface of the water, more graphite-gray than black, would be sprinkled with thousands of little pewter-colored rain dots. But - and there was always a but - that mile before you got to the creek had a reputation for being a speed trap; a well-deserved reputation that she could personally vouch for. And, once you crossed the creek, the country road once again became a city street lined with non-descript, (some down-right ugly,) houses and businesses.

If she turned right, she could ride by her favorite house in town, the little cottage with the stained glass windows hanging on the porch. A picket fence enclosed an overgrown garden filled with late-blooming flowers, birdhouses and quirky yard art. The owner was in the process of painting, so the house was half pink and half green. And had been for years. Though they had never met, she was sure that the woman who lived there - and she just knew it was a woman - had embraced her inner Bohemianess just as she had, and must be quite a wonderful person. The thing was, to get there she’d have to go through that goofy intersection, where she’d have to cross a busy street at an odd angle, zigging to the right, then zagging quickly to the left. You had to be very careful there because, when the light turned green, drivers unfamiliar with the area, thinking there was no opposing traffic, would turn left smack dab in front of you making you call them and their mamas ugly names.

Straight ahead, the road was lined on each side with massive oak trees whose branches met overhead and formed a lacy green tunnel. Traveling through it, she’d pass some of the town’s oldest houses; houses that were built when this area was still considered “way out in the country.” On her left, she’d see the new built-to-look-like-an-old-farmhouse house with the oh, so cool tin roof. A little further up on the right, would be the pretty white house and it’s wrought iron trellis that was all but hidden beneath a big yellow-flowering vine. What would be her most favorite thing to see, though, was the little garden that had been planted on land bequeathed to the town by the Shack Lady. For a long, long time, and to the consternation of her affluent neighbors, an old woman had lived in a broken-down, not very pretty little house on a much desired, very valuable piece of real estate. After her death, it was discovered that she had been quite well off and had owned the land outright. In her will, she deeded the aforementioned real estate to the townspeople, with the stipulation that no houses would ever be built there; that it would become a garden, instead. Now, instead of being ugly and unkempt, it was one of the prettiest places on the pretty tree-lined street. But - here’s that infamous but again - those pretty trees had big ol’ roots that had buckled the pavement in places and years of bad weather had caused pot holes that had never been repaired properly. The bumpy street just plain needed paving. AND, it headed straight into Five Points, the intersection where six, (not five, but six,) of the busiest streets in town came together. The state-of-the-art traffic light did a good job of keeping things sane, but sometimes you had to wait what seemed like forever for your turn to go.

While she was sitting there trying to name all six points that came together up ahead (much like she sometimes tried to name all eight of Santa’s reindeer or Snow White’s seven dwarves,) the light changed from red to green. She slid her foot from the brake to the accelerator, pressed down, and for no better reason than just because, went straight. “Hmm,” she thought. “Wonder what it would be like if life were like this; if every time you chose a particular life path, you’d know ahead of time just what was ahead, the bad as well as the good.” In her heart, though, she knew that it wouldn’t be a good thing; that fretting over all the bad that could happen would keep you from fully enjoying all the good that was to be had. And besides, she just loved surprises.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Those Three Little Words

I know you’re thinking, “I love you.” And, actually, at that moment, I did love this woman. I would have happily kissed her on the mouth if she had been standing next to me in my house instead of sitting in a doctor’s office way across town.

I had called earlier, hoping that the results were back before I left for a day of shopping with Anna. The receptionist very nicely explained that the results usually took 7-10 business days and somebody would call me when they were available. “But the nurse at the hospital said five days,” I whined. She kindly offered to put me through to the voice mail of Dr. Meanie’s nurse and I thanked her.

I left a message and explained that I would be gone most of the day and was hoping to hear something before I left. Leaving my cell phone number in case the call came while we were on the road, I ended the call and woke up Miss Anna so she could do listen-for-the-phone duty while I got dressed. “Is your phone charged?” she asked. Well, of course, it is no. I plugged it in and headed for the shower.

I forced myself to shower slowly. I took extra time with my hair and skin care regime, and actually put on mascara. As anxious as I was for answers, I also dreaded getting them. It was the same way I felt when I got my State Board exam results after nursing school. I would pick up the envelope and put it back on the table. I would grab it and start to lift the flap and then throw it back down. I knew that what was in that aforementioned envelope could possibly change my life for the worst. What if I had failed? I would lose my job! How would I make my car payment?! That's how I felt today. What if the results were bad? It would most definitelychange my life for the worst. Did I really want to know that right before what was supposed to be a fun day of shopping with my sweet baby girl?

All dressed up with somewhere to go, I went to my bedroom and picked the phone up. The tiny little words on that tiny little screen told me that I had not one, but two missed calls from Robin, the nurse. I checked the voice mail and she had, indeed, left a message. “Please call me back when you get this. Tell the girls up front to have me paged.” Have her paged?! It must be really bad, I thought.

Hands shaking, I dialed the number and waited the 5 hours and 33 minutes it took (at least it seemed that long) for her to come to the phone. Actually, in less than a minute, I heard her cheerful (was that a good sign?!) voice on the other end of the line. She said something about last Thursday and the office being closed Friday and a letter that had been mailed to me and scar tissue and blah, blah, blah. I heard bits and pieces and this and that, but then I heard those three little words: “The polyps were benign!” Ok, maybe two of those words were big words, but hearing them was every bit as sweet as hearing I love you. They were benign!

Happy ending, right? Well, of course it is. But there’s more to this story. Last week, I wrote here about how afraid I was and how I could barely think of anything else. Very soon after I posted that story, I was wrapped up in love and support and held up in prayer by friends I’d never met. Their words of encouragement and concern were balm to my aching spirit. One friend beautifully advised me to ”let that fear go out that all may unburden you a bit. and let that fear remind that we are gifted of every moment.” I did let it out and I was unburdened and reminded. And myy heart was filled with those three little words. I love you, my friends.

For more stories of precious gifts, go see Emily at chatting at the sky.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

I’m Scared

“We removed three polyps – one big one and two little ones. “ He stood at the foot of the stretcher with his hands on his khaki-covered hips looking somehow older than he should have. His hair was dark; his lightly tanned skin, smooth and unwrinkled. His oxford blue shirt was as unwrinkled as his face and the creases in his pants were sharp. His eyes, partially hidden by trendy dark-rimmed glasses, held no sparkle and, had his voice had any tone at all, it would have been one of arrogance. He explained that the polyps looked okay, but that, of course, we’d have to wait on the biopsy results to be sure. If there had been something bad, he was sure that the removal of the meanest looking polyp would have gotten it. “You’ll need to be scoped again in a year,” he explained and he turned to leave. “You’ll hear from me when we get the results.”

He would have been gone if I hadn’t stopped him to ask what I could do to keep the polyps from coming back. I’d be willing to bet that he thought I didn’t see his shoulders slump with irritation as he turned back to answer my question. And answer he did. He gave the Universal Physician Response, the Med School 101 answer to all patient questions, whether it’s about treatment for ingrown toenails or how to keep hair from growing out of the bottom of your feet. “Lose weight, exercise and eat lots of fruits and vegetables.” And then he really was gone.

Feelings of every color created a vibrant collage on the canvas of my psyche. I felt dislike for the wooden-faced doctor. I felt gratitude for the kind, proficient nurses who had cared for me. I felt giddy and fuzzy thanks to the lovely medication that had been shot into my IV prior to the procedure. I felt warm, gooey love for my sweet daughter who had waited with me, talking grown-up talk and telling me about the plans for her life. I felt hungry and thirsty and ready to go home. But I didn’t feel fear or worry.

After Dr. McNotdreamyatall finished his totally-without-feeling lecture talk, I was free to go. I made the bumpy wheelchair ride (I really could have walked!) down to the car and climbed into the passenger seat. Anna put the car in gear and we left the hospital. Mr. Fear and his friend, Ms. Worry, were nowhere to be seen.

Nor did they show up for lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant. We ate quesadillas and talked and giggled and enjoyed being together. When we finished, we stopped into the grocery store next door for the always needed just a few things and then headed home. I took a long, delicious nap undisturbed the troublesome pair and woke up feeling refreshed.

Later, JD3 came home from work and I told him all about my day. Fear and Worry didn’t try to interrupt or give their account of the happenings. I don’t know where they were, but they weren’t hanging around when we decided that we needed Japanese food for supper. They didn’t ride to the restaurant with us (yes, we ate out twice in one day!) they didn’t join us at our table and they didn’t ride back home with us.

But they were there in all of their hateful glory, Fear and Worry, waiting for me when I walked in the back door. They had sneaked in through a tiny crack in my faith. Each picked a shoulder to sit on and there they’ve been ever since. Sometimes, they’re very quiet and I’m just vaguely aware of their presence. Sometimes, when I’m minding my own business and just doing the things I do, I can feel them breathing down my neck. Sometimes, I feel like I’m just being silly and that they were never there at all. That’s when they dig their claws into my shoulders and whisper nasty, mean things in my ears; “What if…” and “It could be…” And once again, I’m scared.

Friday, July 3, 2009

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BeeMusing by Beverly Lane is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.